Larry’s Mufflers – Part 2

What kind of service do you provide for your employees?   Larry at  Larry’s Classic Quality Brake & Mufflers told me a few things he does to show his employees that he cares. Let me tell you a few of them:

  • He buys lunch for each employee every day.  
  • On Fridays, if his staff has delivered great service, he treats them to a steak!
  • He doesn’t ask his staff to clean the bathroom – he does.
  • He gives his staff second chances.  (One staff quit, he invited that employee back to work and now this man is one of his most loyal employees)
  • He gives his staff “first” chances. (Larry gave a high school drop-out with an opportunity to succeed at repairing cars – today this young man is one of his most talented repairman in his garage)
  • He sees his role to be a role model to his staff – promoting hard work and integrity and a positive attitude toward others

Think about practical ways you can show your staff that you care.  Perhaps it is not buying them a meal – but maybe you can recognize their efforts, provide them with more opportunities, and treat them as your best customers – because that is who they are!

Larry’s Mufflers

Have you ever had such a memorable and incredible experience at a local business that you feel compelled to share about it?  I have.   Let me tell you about Larry at Larry’s Classic Quality Brake & Mufflers in Bonney Lake, Washington.   Larry’s is a locally owned and operated full-service automotive garage and has been in business for close to 20 years – and I can see why.    I walked in the shop and immediately was greeted by Manager Larry – a friendly, personable, and engaging man who just loved to engage his customers.   He told stories, educated me on mufflers, and made me laugh.   I felt taken care of and more than that – I got a great education on some things he has done to service his customers.  

Here’s a take-away for you and your business:   How do you engage your customers?  Are you treating your customers as you would your guest in your home?  What things can you do to help create a comfortable environment for your “guests?”  Larry had a clean and comfortable waiting room, with three current newspapers to read, coffee on the counter, and an entertaining and engaging personality that made my wait time (less than 30 minutes) go quickly!   Oh yes, and his staff gave me a great new muffler!

Back to the Basics in Service: Smile

To take care of ourselves, we need to get back the basics –healthy eating, plenty of exercise, and plenty of rest.  The same holds true for business.   I suggest there are three “basics” that can give your team and organization a consistently high competitive edge in their service level. Here’s one basic:

 Smile – Isn’t it amazing what a simple smile can do to help brighten someone’s day?  A smile says “I’m glad you are here,” “Thank you for calling,” (Yes, you can tell if someone is smiling on the phone), and “You are important to me.” Observe your workplace, especially those who are serving customers front-line and see how many people are smiling.  It’s a simple gesture but can mean so much to a customer.

“A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.” (William Hazlitt)


Phyllis Diller “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”


Stay tuned for the next 2 blogs that will cover the other basics.

Making it Right for your Customers

My husband and I recently purchased some living room furniture.  This has been a two year process!  We were looking for some furniture that we could “cuddle” in as well as a new couch.   We finally found two beautiful pieces at a local furniture story and after waiting 10 weeks, they were delivered to our home last week.  You can imagine the disappointment we felt when I had neck pain after sitting in the chair for a 2 hour movie!

This is when this story becomes amazing.  My husband called the salesperson and he was told “We want to make it right.”  And they did.  They first set up an appointment with the chair manufacturer to see if there was something that could be done with the chair.  And when that didn’t work – we were told we could ”start over” and exchange what we had with something that would work better for us.  What can we learn from this story?

When something goes wrong, we have an opportunity to “win back” our customers.   Encourage your leaders to teach your customer service professionals to look at problems at opportunities.  Recognize the positive impact that you can have on your customers when you can creatively brainstorm solutions.  Take a look at your company policies and make sure they provide enough room for people to do what it takes to keep that customer relationship.

Guess what, this furniture store has made fans of us!  What about you?  We have got to “make it right for our customers!”


Kit-Kat® Clocks Rock!

Excellent customer ServicI recently had an experience with Kit Kat® clocks that I just have to rave about!  You know the famous Kit-Kat® clock.  They are those cute little cat clocks with the moving tail and eyes.  My husband (boyfriend at the time) blessed me with a gift of this clock for my Birthday back in March 2008. I have love this clock!  It’s been running great  until a few months ago. The tail kept stopping even after replacing the batteries with new ones.  I called their corporate office – left a message –  and here is where the real magic happened:

  • I got an answer that day!
  • Dave, the customer service professional was friendly, professional, and highly competent
  • He was so knowledgeable about the clock that he troubleshooted why the clock may have stopped working and walked me through the step by step process on getting it fixed
  • When we called back the next day with some remaining questions, we got the same person!
  • In a few moments, Dave walked my husband through some additional steps and our clock now works wonderfully!
  • And now we are raving fans about this company! (Note:  The pink kit-cat® clock (with eye lashes) may be joining our family soon!)

For more information about this incredible organization (celebrating 80 years in business) – go to

You don’t want to miss the three-story tall fully-functional Kit-CatCat®’s Clock that will be seen by over 300 million TV viewers at the Rose Parade!

Create (and Manage) Expectations

How does creating and managing expectations help create a culture of contribution?   We will answer this question by taking a principle from customer service.   In the book, “50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use to Keep Your Customers” the author, Paul R. Timm, Ph.D, says that our expectations are “perceptual.”  They exist in our minds – and sometimes they are accurate and rational, but sometimes they aren’t.  When we are customers, we evaluate our service based on the entire experience – that goes beyond the core product or service purchased.  And guess what, our evaluation is based on our own expectations – did the service provider meet or exceed our expectations? (Paul R. Timm says that the key for gaining loyalty with our customers is not in meeting what the customer expects – but in exceeding it). 

Here’s the take-away. Your employees and staff members have expectations when they decide to work for your organization.  Part of your role as a leader, is to help your “customers” (your staff members) become engaged and committed and even “loyal” partners by constantly exceeding their expectations.  You want to go beyond what your staff anticipate or expect so that they feel positive and energized to go beyond what their job entails.  Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Make job expectations explicit. Clearly communicate the job requirements and how employees will be evaluated.
  • Provide frequent feedback for your team members so they know how they are doing in relation to the job expectations.
  • Recognize each employee’s efforts, especially those employees who excel and do work beyond what is expected
  • Get to know each staff member so that you can tailor your communication style to the individual
  • As you get to know each staff member, discover or learn what each one anticipates and expects from you as a manager – and if possible, over deliver
  • Review every “touch point” that your employee has with your department and find ways to deliver value (Some areas that you can look at include: how you orient a new employee, whether you are providing mentoring for new employees, what opportunities employees have to continue to learn and grow, the frequency of your one-on-one meetings with each employee, your consistency in providing performance feedback, recognition, etc.)

Perhaps you didn’t realize that your role as a leader has such a parallel to customer service. But your most important customer base isn’t those who purchase your products, it is those people who choose to work for you!  And being aware of the power of expectations can go a long way in ensuring your staff feels good about working for you and your team!

As we conclude this series, let’s review, the 7 ways you can create a culture of contribution in your work team, community association, church setting, or volunteer organization: 

  1. Hire the right people
  2. Engage your staff and your customers
  3. Enthusiastically promote others
  4. Offer benefits to be involved
  5. Recognize good work
  6. Reward contribution
  7. Create (and manage) expectations

Imagine the positive energy and productivity that you and your team could experience as you start to implement these steps to creating a culture of contribution!  So here’s my question, which one will you tackle first?

“I wouldn’t go anywhere Else!”

How many times have you said this about a vendor you have worked with?  Think about the times you have said this about an organization of which you are a “loyal fan”.  Got an example?  Now, think about that organization. Aren’t you actually thinking of one person – one incredible person who delivers top notch, value-added service to you?  This is the value of your front line staff that has moment-to-moment encounters with your customers every day. They have the privilege, and responsibility, of being “the face” that customer’s think of when they are saying “I wouldn’t go anywhere else!”

Jerry Akers, a salesperson with Women’s Shoes at Nordstrom is that person for me. I have been a customer of Jerry’s for years. He knows the kinds of shoes that work with my feet. He is efficient, professional, friendly, and he provides value-added service in every interaction. Just a few weeks ago, I needed to find shoes for a wedding. They needed to be flat, comfortable, and classy.  Jerry found them quickly, I tried them on, and 5 minutes later, I was out the door and onto my next errand.

What can you do to create loyal fans who “would never go anywhere else?”   I have two ideas: 1) make sure you train your sales force so they will be knowledgeable about your products and 2) hire those who are both passionate about and skilled in delivering exceptional service.

To move ahead today on idea #1, sign up and register for the 3-hour workshop Creating a Culture of Service: More Tools to turn your Fans into your Enthusiastic Salesforce that will be held on Tuesday, August 17th from 8-11:00 am at Celebration Church in Puyallup.

This is an advanced workshop on creating a service culture to equip you with what you need to transform your client-fans into a highly dedicated sales force!   After attending this three-hour workshop, you will walk away with:

  • Creative ways to provide value for your current customers
  • Easy-to-implement strategies to turn your satisfied clients into fans who become part of your sales force
  • A proven system to transform your organization into a culture of service

You will also receive an information-rich guide that is packed with easy-to-implement service skills that you and your staff can refer to long after the session.

Register TODAY at www.BusinessandLeadershipConnection.comBusiness and Leadership Connection



Engage your Customers

As you think about creating a culture of contribution, don’t forget the importance of engaging your customers.  Take note of my last BLOG entry where I shared a number of creative ways to engage your internal customers, your staff.  Here are a few ideas to engage your external customers, those that purchase your goods and services: 

  • Thank your customers for their service.
  • Thank your customers for their feedback (whether it was positive or negative – remember, a complaint is a gift!)
  • Ask your customers how service can be improved. 
  • Make it easy for your customers to communicate with you. (How accessible is a live human being to your customers when they call your organization?)
  • Appreciate their partnership with your organization (Provide gifts or “rewards” for your major donors or long time customers)
  • Understand service delivery by “walking in the shoes of your customers” and examining every touch point for service

Creating a Memorable Name

Now that I newly have a last name “Bang,” – I can relate to those of you who have memorable, even humorous names.  I would encourage you to use your name to create a funny one-liner so that customers will remember you. bang

I remember when I talked with Garold, a sales representative with Accuride, he said “My name is Garold – sounds like Harold but with a G” – which was an easy way to remember his name.  He shared this with some humor and a lot of friendliness that made me feel like I was talking with an old friend.   Here are a few pointers about creating a memorable name for our customers:

  • Make sure you laugh with the customer.  Even if you have told this particular one-liner countless times, for the customer – this is the first time. Enjoy the moment with your customer.
  • Avoid inappropriate humor.  Make sure your humor is “family friendly.” 
  • Don’t make fun of your customer’s name. You may think it is funny, but he or she may not.
  • Anticipate the questions. Garold may have heard many times in his life, “Are you saying Harold” – and he successfully anticipated this question by coming up with a way for customers to both hear, and remember his name.

Relationships Matter

Photo for Knee BlogSome say that customer service isn’t what it used to be and that technology is replacing human to human contact. My Mom had an experience that reminded me again that even in today’s world, relationships matter. Recovering from knee replacement surgery, she has been in a rehab facility where she is gaining confidence and strength in walking again. Who should walk in to the rehab room but her knee surgeon, checking up with her! Her knee surgeon looked at her knee, gave her encouragement, and brightened her day and week! The rehab therapists and nurses all said “This is not usual – rarely do surgeons pay their patients a visit – you must be a VIP!”

Relationships do matter and those personal connections that you can make to your patients, customer, vendors, employees, and loved ones make a big difference! This is what Valentine’s Day is all about!

What “VIP” can you pleasantly surprise today!?